U.S., Pakistani Officials Review Pakistan's Economy, Recovery
By MacKenzie C. Babb
Washington - U.S. and Pakistani officials have met to review the state of Pakistan's economy, its reform efforts and ongoing flood recovery programs as part of continued support for the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, according to the U.S. State Department.
"The two sides focused on how to strengthen the foundations of the economy to expand employment opportunities and move toward self-sufficiency and away from donor dependence," an April 18 State Department announcement said.
The Working Group on Economics and Finance convened April 18 under the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. Participants included Pakistani Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas Nides, U.S. Assistant Treasury Secretary Charles Collyns and David Lipton, senior director for international economics on President Obama's national security staff.
The United States recognized Pakistan's recently implemented measures to strengthen its fiscal framework as it develops its 2011-2012 budget, and encouraged major structural reforms to create strong growth and job creation, particularly in the energy sector. Shaikh presented Pakistan's development strategy, "intended to enable a sustained period of increased growth" based on national consensus and "with measures to continue progress on sustainability and encourage international investors and partners," according to the release.
The United States committed its continued support to Pakistan as the country implements those programs. The United States also praised Pakistan's leadership for its initiative in convening a broad-ranging national energy summit to encourage dialogue and action from different economic, societal and political stakeholders.
"Both sides also agreed that closer consultations on assistance priorities have helped achieve greater focus in U.S. assistance to energy, economic growth, stability, education and health as key areas for Pakistan's future development," the release said. It added that talks reviewed the status of U.S. programs to assist the recovery from Pakistan's devastating floods in July, which affected 21 million people, killed 1,800 and destroyed thousands of hectares of crops.
The United States committed nearly $600 million in disaster assistance for Pakistan's flood recovery in 2010. The working group affirmed that $310 million is actively being used to rehabilitate infrastructure, including for seeds and fertilizer last fall as well as planning now to repair roads, rebuild schools and rehabilitate irrigation systems. The United States also confirmed its $190 million contribution to Pakistan's Citizen's Damage Compensation Fund to help flood victims.
The release said the meeting underlined the "joint commitment of Pakistan and the United States to work with bilateral and multilateral development partners toward stability."
The U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue was launched in 2006, with meetings held at the ministerial level for the first time in March 2010. In addition to economics and finance, the dialogue includes working groups on democratic institutions, agriculture and food security, communications, water resources, energy security, health care, women's empowerment, and recovery and reconstruction from the floods.
The Obama administration has begun using strategic dialogues as a means for deeper consultations and commitment among select nations. The dialogues are designed to respond to the specific needs of partner nations and enhance cooperation in critical areas.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)